Like many great ideas, Mylen Yamamoto’s idea for sustainable chopsticks with a built-in rest came to her while locked on a plane with nothing else to do. As a lover of traditional Asian foods (she is a fourth generation Japanese/Filipino American), Yamamoto knew the important part her chopsticks played in the grand scheme of many meals. On the plane ride to Asia that day in 2015, she realized how annoying they really were—always rolling off the tray and touching objects she would rather not have to put in her mouth. That’s where the idea of Cropsticks formed.
Cropsticks are your average, everyday pair of chopsticks with a slight twist. Rather than merely snapping them apart to enjoy your noodles, you snap off a small, curved tray. It’s the perfect size for easy use, with a groove in the middle that makes it easy to set dirty chopstick ends inside. No mess, no germs … and way less deforestation.
How? While most chopsticks are fashioned out of wood, Yamamoto’s Cropsticks are crafted from bamboo. While most chopsticks require the permanent loss of a tree to come to fruition, Cropsticks utilize a rapidly renewable resource. Bamboo grows like a weed, has a pleasant feel in the hand, and is easy to use. When Yamamoto found this greater-than-great alternative to traditional wood, she knew that her new brand had a bold opportunity. Why simply make chopsticks with a built-in rest? She had the power to turn back the clock on deforestation.
Cropsticks’ mission is to “leave behind a greener environment for future generations”. As the company’s website cites, 45% of single-use chopsticks on the market today are still made from trees—that’s 36 billion utensils! With Cropsticks, not only are trees saved, but restaurants that use these one-time-use sticks have the opportunity to upcycle their chopsticks as well. Upcycled Cropsticks can be turned into shelving, flooring, tabletops and even more bamboo creations.
The Cropsticks idea launched with a Kickstarter campaign in 2016, in which 284 backers pledged over $21,000 to bring the idea to life. Marketed as the real “mind blowing” chopsticks, the brand has been well received in both restaurant environments and with real-world, everyday consumers. Cropsticks works by simply answering a common concern: how to keep chopsticks out of harm’s way when they’re not in use at the dinner table. The idea is enhanced by the company’s mission to create a better tomorrow by using sustainable resources to craft its products. Plus, the packaging is pretty cute.
Yamamoto has built a solid team of people that have brought the concept of Cropsticks to life. Co-founder Jay Chang’s family has been in bamboo manufacturing for 15+ years, offering a perfect opportunity for building a partnership. The remaining 3 members of the executive team include a Business Development specialist who worked for over 10 years in film and television, a Finance & Operations guru who has operated a number of successful businesses, and a Sales Executive with a decade of experience in hospitality. Together, they’re one forward-thinking group that surely has more ideas stirring in the pot.